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How special is Marvel’s super material vibranium?

01 March 2018

Have you ever wondered just how strong Black Panther’s suit or Captain America’s shield is? The materials scientists at Matmatch have!

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Which is why the materials comparison site has put together a page looking at the properties of vibranium, to coincide with Marvel’s latest cinematic release, Black Panther. 

Offering a comparison with the genuine products listed on the site, Matmatch’s take on the fabled Marvel metal brings together characteristics from real-world metals and a handful of easter eggs for Marvel fans. For inspiration, Matmatch looked to the metals titanium and tantalum, the latter of which inspired the recent film’s representation of vibranium.

“While vibranium is a completely fictional material, it is interesting to see how it compares to its real-life counterparts and the metals that inspired it,” explains Ben Smye, Head of Growth at Matmatch. “It felt like a fun idea to bring real properties to a mythical material that underpins so much of Marvel lore and to demonstrate that, even if you’re Tony Stark or Shuri, the Q to Black Panther’s Bond, materials selection matters.

“The way Marvel presents vibranium makes it incomparable to other metals. One of its defining characteristics is its ability to absorb vibrations and shock of a magnitude that metals simply cannot. In this sense, we assume it to be closer to a polymer for its repeatable shock absorption.

“Of course, this might have unexpected consequences. We know from thermodynamics that energy cannot be destroyed, so the shock will likely be converted to thermal energy. In such instances, high impact collisions and shockwaves will probably have undesirable, skin-burning consequences for anybody wearing or wielding vibranium — which is bad luck if you’ve just been struck by the hammer of a Norse god.”

Besides vibranium, Matmatch has a catalogue of more than 80,000 materials, with a growing list of suppliers around the world. The site functions as a detailed search engine for materials, allowing design engineers and product designers to research specific materials for their application, based on everything from shape and material type to density.

Unfortunately, design engineers and product designers hoping to specify vibranium for their next project may have to wait, as Matmatch has confirmed that the product will be unavailable for the foreseeable future. However, there is a wide range of viable alternatives available in Matmatch’s online materials database that will suit nearly any project.

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